Tooth decay often goes unnoticed, but there are some warning signs to look out for.
Maintaining a healthy smile is very important if you want to enjoy overall wellness. In fact, research shows that there is a strong connection between one’s oral and general health. One of the best ways to keep your teeth looking good and functioning as they should is to keep tooth decay at bay. Unfortunately, tooth decay is a common issue, and often goes untreated — this, in turn, leads to more serious issues over time.
The reality is that you might not even know that you have a cavity —read on to learn about the possible signs of decay and what you should do if you suspect you have a problem…
What is a cavity, exactly?
Every time that you eat or drink, plaque forms in the mouth. Plaque is a sticky substance that coats the teeth, tongue and gums — it’s packed with bacteria that produce harmful acids that can damage the enamel of the teeth over time. It’s important to get rid of plaque on a regular basis by brushing and flossing your teeth. If, however, you don’t clean your teeth and plaque builds up, it can wear away at your teeth, eventually leading to cavities.
A cavity refers to a hole that forms in the tooth. Cavities typically start off small, but if left untreated, will worsen over time. They can get bigger and deeper, destroying more and more of the tooth’s structure, and can also lead to other issues like infection.
What are the signs of a cavity?
If you have noticed that your teeth feel sensitive whenever you eat or drink something hot or cold, it could be a sign that you have a cavity. This is because as the enamel wears away, the underlying dentin is often exposed. This layer of the tooth contains cells and nerves that can be stimulated by extreme temperatures, as well as acidic and sweet foods.
Another possible sign of a cavity is persistent toothache. You might notice a sudden pain when you eat something or a dull pain that comes and goes.
Other possible signs of a cavity include stains on the affected tooth — these often start as white spots and darken overtime — or a visible hole in your tooth.
When should you see your dentist?
If you notice any of these issues, it is important that you consult with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will examine your teeth and check for any issues — the sooner a problem is identified, the better.
It is also advisable that you see your dentist every six months for a routine check-up, whether or not you have noticed any symptoms. Regular check-ups are a highly effective way of preventing cavities from forming and putting a stop to existing cavities before they become more serious.
Can you prevent cavities?
One of the best things you can do to prevent cavities from forming in your teeth is to practice proper oral hygiene every single day. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily and sticking to your routine dental check-ups. You should also eat a balanced diet that is low in refined sugars, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
You might consider chatting to your dentist about preventative treatments that can further reduce your risk of tooth decay. Fissure sealants, for example, help to keep harmful bacteria from damaging the teeth, while fluoride treatments strengthen the enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks.
How can we help?
At Murwillumbah Dental, we really care about your oral health and encourage you to come in and see us every six months. When you see us for a dental check-up and clean, we’ll detect any potential issues at an early stage and treat them quickly. If you would like to find out what to expect at one of these routine appointments, please have a look here.
To arrange an appointment to see us, please get in touch with us here or give us a call on (02) 6672 1068.